A food hub, as defined by the USDA, is “a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.” Food hubs are a part of the agricultural value chain model and often share common values relating to conservation, sustainability, healthy food access, and supporting local farmers. A defining characteristic of food hubs is source identification, a food safety and marketing benefit that allows consumers to trace the origin of products they buy. One of the primary goals of food hubs is to give small and medium-sized farmers access to larger or additional markets. Food hubs also fill gaps in food systems infrastructure, such as transportation, product storage, and product processing. Although companies and organizations that fit the USDA definition have been operating in the United States since at least the early 1970s, most food hubs, as well as the common use of the term, started in or after 2008.
Food hubs handle some or all of the following:
Food hubs are generally categorized into three different types.